Losing in Sports Movies

Take a second, and think about this. Can you think of a sports movie where the featured team or featured athlete doesn’t win? Let me tell you something; there aren’t many. But, when a once in a generation movie with a losing outcome pops into cinematic form, boy oh boy, it’s a keeper. The risk a film director has to take for a story to end in the losing column is immense.

The easy road is for a final game-winning buzzer-beater to occur, as the star of the movie hits a slow-motion spin move, step back, double crossover, fadeaway, swishing the 30 footer over his defender. That’s boring. That’s predictable.

The greatest golf movie of all-time is Tin Cup.

The greatest basketball movie of all-time is Coach Carter.

Coach Carter meets his immature Richmond High School basketball team for the first time, and it isn’t pretty.

What do these two classics have in common?

Loss.

A one-shot lead with an approach shot on 18 to win the U.S. Open, attempting the impossible, Roy McAvoy creates the most entertaining, the most chaotic, and the most comical ending to a story that anyone will ever see. What happens? He comes in 5th place.

A journey filled with ups and downs at Richmond High School, Coach Carter leads a rowdy and disrespectful squad to maturity. The reset button is pressed during a team lockout. Years of losing turn into an undefeated season. Undefeated until the championship game.

The Richmond Oilers lose by two points to rival Saint Francis in the long-awaited, highly anticipated state championship. Heartbreaking, yet breathtaking. We see scrappy high school brats turn into strong young men. They go out with a loss, but win a future.

Loss is a lesson. A lesson to be learned from. These two movies teach us lessons while flashing moments of becoming heroic. Not all Cinderella story’s finish with a fairytale ending, which defines these movies.

Losing is winning.

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